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Pluto still a high-flyer for astrologers

Written by: Staff
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TORONTO, Aug 24 (Reuters) Scientists may have demoted Pluto to the rank of a ''dwarf planet'' today but astrologers foretell no major changes in the way they read the heavens because of the move.

Russell Grant, a British astrologer and best-selling author, said Pluto's planetary demotion was not a surprise after years of discussion and he would not change the charts he uses for his clients or millions of visitors to his Web site.

''I personally am shaken not stirred,'' Grant said in a telephone interview from Britain. ''It's very interesting that Pluto's been downgraded in a planetary sense because he could never be downgraded in a mythological sense.

''I will continue to use Pluto because he gives me the ability to look into people's charts and see where they're coming from psychologically,'' he said.

Grant noted that astrologers had long used non-planets, such as Earth's moon. He also charts several asteroids, which are inside the solar system but much smaller than planets.

Astrology, the belief that the relative position of celestial bodies can help in the understanding of human affairs and earthly events, arose several millenniums ago. Although hugely popular, it is quite separate from the modern scientific study of astronomy.

''Astronomers have had several cases in the past where they've made changes in the objects used by astrologers,'' said Lee Lehman, academic dean of Kepler College in Seattle, the only institute in the Western Hemisphere to award degrees in astrological studies.

Lehman said it took several decades for astrologers to reach a consensus on the relevance of Pluto after its discovery in 1930.

One of the reasons astronomers unseated Pluto was that technological advances made them aware it was actually smaller than a body discovered in 2003 and nicknamed Xena, after the warrior princess in the television show.

''There is now quite a bit of interest now in the astrological community about Xena,'' Lehman said, without being able to predict whether the body would have a significant impact on astrology.

Grant said Xena had limited use as its position meant it would currently only affect people whose sun signs were in Pisces and Aries, just two of 12 constellations in the zodiac, a celestial band observed by astrologers.

REUTERS VJ BST0219

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